Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Pakistan launches anti-polio vaccination campaign after third case reported

Pakistan started a new anti-polio drive on Monday following the report of the country’s third poliovirus case in 2022.

The five-day campaign was launched after a case was reported in North Waziristan, the northwestern region bordering Afghanistan. The campaign aims to vaccinate 40 million children under the age of 5 across the country.

This is the third campaign in Pakistan for the current year while two anti-polio campaigns were launched previously in January and March after discovering only one case of the disease last year, which raised hopes the country was close to eradicating polio.

Since April, when this year’s first polio case was registered, three polio cases have been reported in Pakistan, all from the North Waziristan area of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Still, fortunately, no case of the crippling disease has been reported in Sindh over the past two years.

Coordinator for the National Emergency Operations Centre on Polio Eradication Initiative, Dr. Shahbaz Baig in a recent statement, urged parents to cooperate with polio vaccination teams in the door-to-door campaign as the anti-polio campaigns are often marked by violence.
Dubious elements in the northwest often target polio teams and police allocated on their safety, falsely assuming the vaccination campaigns as a Western conspiracy to sterilize children.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only remaining countries in the world still trying to eradicate polio, which can cause severe paralysis in children.

Launching of the Anti-polio drive in Sindh:

Sindh Health Minister Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho inaugurated the polio vaccination campaign today on Monday in the high-risk union council in the Sohrab Goth area of Karachi.

More than 75,000 vaccinators and supervisors will take part in the campaign during which 10 million children are expected to be administered oral polio vaccine, according to the Sindh health ministry.

“No negligence will be tolerated in the polio campaign,” affirmed Chief Secretary Dr. Muhammad Sohail Rajput who is personally monitoring the vaccination drive.
He also directed all the deputy commissioners to monitor the polio campaign, and submit reports on a departure basis.

According to the province’s health department officials, polio vaccination camps had been set up at 40 places at the entrances of the province immediately after Eidul Fitr, and 167,328 children had been vaccinated against polio in 46,515 buses entering the province.

High-level polio delegation visits Pakistan

A high-level polio delegation, comprising the Chair of the Polio Oversight Board, Regional Directors of the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and senior directors of the global polio program, visited Pakistan from May 16 to May 18 to support the country in addressing the remaining challenges to containing polio transmission.

During the three-day visit to Islamabad and Peshawar, the delegates visited Emergency Operation Centers and attended the National Task Force meeting chaired by the Prime Minister and the Provincial Task Force meeting for polio eradication in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The delegates also held separate side meetings with Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Health Minister Qadir Patel, and Pakistan Army polio spokesperson Engr. Lt. General Moazzam Ejaz.

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